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Bellbrook gearing up for festival

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Bellbrook is gearing up for their 36th Annual Sugar Maple Festival the weekend of April 25-27, 2014, kicking off at 6:30 p.m. This years’ theme is fittingly named “Flower Power”- Celebrating the 60’s, just as spring peeks its wonders around the corner. It will be a weekend full of fun with great music, a celebratory parade, delicious food and so much more, rain or shine.

“With it [the festival] being pushed back a month due to the Easter holiday, I am hoping bad weather will not be an issue,” Christy Phillips, chairperson of the festival said. “We are due for a weekend of sun and warm temperatures.” Even though attendance hasn’t really been affected by the weather in the past, the festival committee is expecting between 15-20,000 attendees.

From year to year, the festival welcomes back the favorites but is also excited to introduce new comers. This year, a new band will kick off the festival. “The Rejects” will rock the Bellbrook Park with the family friendly rendition of rock & roll favorites that will have attendees signing along and possibly even dancing in the park. The Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Park District Community Center will be the rain location for the concert.

“This year, we moved the kettle corn vendor out of the park and onto the street with the other food vendors,” Phillips said. “It was really difficult for the park to get their lawn fixed after the heavy equipment. Other than that, there will be no other big changes.”

On Friday, Main St. will be closed beginning at 10 a.m. and Franklin St. will close at 5 p.m. The festival will begin with a dog show behind the Sugarcreek Elementary School followed by a night of music by “The Rejects” at 8 p.m. Grab some dinner on the way at one of the many food vendors along the way.

Saturday, the day begins with the traditional 5k race and pancake breakfast at Bellbrook United Methodist Church beginning at 8 a.m. followed by the community parade that flows down Main Street demonstrating the pride of Sugarcreek and Bellbrook, featuring Talon, the new Bellbrook High School mascot.

Throughout the entire festival and remainder of the weekend, free children activities, vendors, food and free music will stretch through downtown. Of course, the best part of the festival is the never ending supply of maple syrup for purchase at the Old Sugar House by Bline Farms, out of Springfield. Bline Farms is a seasonal family business based on a lost tradition dating back to the Native Americans. To prepare for the weekend’s events, Bline Farms taps into 100 to 400 maple trees beginning Valentine’s Day. They will also tap into a maple tree during the festival to show the children the art of maple syrup.

Another exciting event includes the Citizen of the Year Award. The 2014 Sugar Maple Citizen of the Year award will be awarded to Keith McKeever. He is the former varsity basketball and baseball athlete and 1979 Bellbrook High school graduate. He is deeply involved in youth sports programs in Bellbrook and raised over $10,000 in scholarships for cheerleaders.

A free shuttle bus runs Saturday through Sunday from Bellcreek Intermediate School on Upper Bellbrook Rd. and drops visitors off at the Bellbrook Park, in the center of the action.

The festival committee begins meeting and planning for this weekend in September. A lot of hard work and planning from dedicated volunteers goes into putting on this weekend filled affair. For more information and a complete festival schedule of events, visit the website at sugarmaplefestival.com or call (877) 522-5995 ext. 5.

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